Notes from... Marilu Marshall

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Notes from... Marilu Marshall

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The need to respect and embrace individual differences feels more urgent now than ever, in a world where political tensions seem to be widening the divides amongst us. As the daughter of Cuban parents, I learned at a young age to appreciate the unique personal characteristics of others, and I am passionate about the importance of understanding and respecting cultural differences. Today, as Chief Inclusion and Diversity Officer at The Estée Lauder Companies, I believe it is crucial to continue to foster a culture of inclusion and diversity—in our global society, in our country and in our Company.

It’s relatively easy to make a business case for diversity in the workplace, especially for a consumer-facing company like ours. Insights and sensitivities regarding the beauty needs and desires of our global, multicultural consumers of all ages, as well as differences in shopping styles and preferences, can best be addressed by employees who  mirror our customers. But having a great mix of diverse talent is only the beginning — it’s what we do with the mix that really matters. 

Creativity and innovation thrive in an organization where different perspectives, disciplines and experiences are recognized, respected and cultivated. Creating this culture of inclusion is paramount to our business success as it is a differentiator that gives us a competitive advantage. At The Estée Lauder Companies, we are fortunate to be building on a strong foundation of family values that includes respect for all individuals. We also draw inspiration from our founder Estée Lauder — an incredible woman who had the courage to challenge, to push the boundaries of possibilities. 

We continuously look for effective ways to embrace our employees’ distinctions while celebrating their differences. This starts with raising awareness around gender equality, ethnic, religious and national differences, generational distinctions and sexual orientation.  Through group discussions that we have facilitated with more than 8,000 employees around the world to date, we are increasing awareness about the importance of inclusion and discussing openly how best to foster this culture of inclusion in the workplace.  And while our team developing these Inclusion & Diversity efforts is small, we are fortunate to have enlisted employee volunteers who are also passionate about the topic and work with us as facilitators, helping to broaden the reach and deepen the impact of these programs.   

I am particularly proud of our 20 employee resource groups (ERGs) that are active throughout our Company on a global basis. These employee-led groups offer their members networking and professional development opportunities, participation in philanthropic activities and unique business alignment projects that they lead from start-to-finish. ERG leaders are invited to present their initiatives to our Company’s Global Diversity Council – co-chaired by William P. Lauder, Executive Chairman, and Fabrizio Freda, President and CEO – which helps to further integrate these efforts into the fabric of the organization, and gain recognition for ERG leaders.

Creativity and innovation thrive in an organization where different perspectives, disciplines and experiences are recognized, respected and cultivated.

Our Company’s Inclusion & Diversity Week is another important employee awareness effort that takes place in the month of May around the globe. During this period, employees participate in a wide range of cultural, volunteer and educational events held in more than 30 locations around the world. This year’s theme of “Inclusive Beauty” will accentuate the many facets and cultural interpretations of beauty.

We are encouraged by the progress being made. As the demographic profiles of both our employees and our global consumers shift and expand, I look forward to reinforcing a culture that embraces diversity and individuality, allowing all of our employees to feel valued, respected and included in our Estée Lauder Companies family.

Marilu Marshall is Senior Vice President, Global Human Resources, and Chief Diversity Officer for The Estée Lauder Companies, a position she has held since 2007. Marilu originally joined the Company in 1998, serving in a variety of senior Human Resources roles. She began her career as a trial attorney with the Organized Crime and Racketeering Section of the United States Department of Justice, the first woman to serve in such a position. Her government service continued with an appointment as Deputy Director of the Commission on the Review of the National Policy Toward Gambling, a joint congressional and Presidential Commission. Thereafter she worked in the private sector, as Vice President of Special Projects at Playboy Enterprises Inc., followed by Senior Vice President and General Counsel for Cunard Line, Ltd.  Marilu received both her undergraduate degree and her law degree from the University of Miami.

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The Estée Lauder Companies' Notes from... Marilu Marshall

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